THE LITTLE BIG CEILIDH DUO is available to book for festival social ceilidhs and contras. The duo features the explosive playing of Eddy Jay on accordion and Mike Evans on fiddle. Mike and Eddy play a full repertoire of English country dance music and American contra tunes, and both are also fluent readers of standard notation, able to play any dance music visiting callers might require.
You don’t have to be Scottish to appreciate Scotland (although it probably helps). The breathtaking natural beauty of the landscape, both lowland and highland, combined with the historical mystique of a powerful, colourful, unique and indomitable culture, lends the territory north of the border an unparallelled attraction steeped in nostalgia and tradition.
Such a romantic kaleidoscope of vivid imagery makes an exciting and inviting wedding theme, the more so if there happen to be any Scottish connections in either or both families.
In keeping with its proud history, Scotland boasts a rich tapestry of traditional music and dance within its fiercely-preserved culture, and this can offer a hugely enjoyable opportunity for wedding entertainment in true Scottish style.
Find out more about booking a Scottish band for your wedding.
No Scottish-themed wedding or anniversary celebration would be complete without a rousing ceilidh as the finale to the day’s proceedings. As traditional as bagpipes, kilts and haggis, a ceilidh is a session or two of organised country dancing to the music of a live band playing energetic Celtic dance-tunes.
The dancing is supervised by an experienced instructor or ‘caller’ who explains and demonstrates the various steps and moves for each new dance. Don’t worry if some of your guests have never been to a ceilidh before – the caller will be able to tailor the dances to suit their ability level, ensuring that even Sassenachs with two left feet can join in the fun!
Ceilidh dancing is an extremely popular social activity all across Scotland, and indeed the UK as a whole, and not just at weddings. Many an enjoyable evening is whiled away ‘Stripping The Willow’ to favourite tunes like ‘The Flowers Of Edinburgh’ and ‘My Love Is But A Lassie’.
If there’s a single national instrument that summons up the essence of Scotland, it would the bagpipes, and if you want a wedding with a real Scottish flavour, having a bagpiper in full national regalia to announce the arrival of the bride (and other important moments during the day) would be an excellent idea.
Bagpipes occasionally feature in ceilidh bands, but the accordion is a more regular choice to drive the music along. Add fiddles and maybe flute to carry the tune, and piano, bass and drumkit to pin down the rhythm, and there you have a typical Scottish ceilidh band line-up. The exciting tempo and infectious rhythm of the traditional dance-tunes quickly gets people up on their feet, ready for ‘The Gay Gordons’ or ‘The Dashing White Sergeant’.
For an inspirational wedding theme steeped in romance and heritage, you can’t go far wrong following the traditional Scottish example of how to celebrate your marriage in style. The Gaelic word ‘ceilidh’ loosely translates to ‘a visit’, or ‘a gathering of the clan’ – and if a wedding celebration isn’t precisely that, then precisely what is it?
’Banish Misfortune’ is the delightfully evocative title of an attractive 3-part traditional Irish jig melody, and has been adopted by an enthusiastic group of London-based musicians as the ideal name for a good-time Irish traditional band.
The band’s main objective is to live up to their name, and when you witness one of their energetic performances you’ll soon agree that they comfortably achieve their aim. Banish Misfortune deliver strikingly effective versions of all the tried-and-tested Irish favourites and some more besides, and can also cook up an infectious toe-tapping mixture of reels, jigs, polkas and hornpipes for organised ceilidh-dancing.
Find out more about booking Banish Misfortune for your wedding reception.
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The soft-focus, nostalgic evocation of a simpler, slower existence is brought warmly into the spotlight in some of the gentler ballads, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, conjuring up vivid imagery of a bygone age. Then crank up the tempo with an irresistibly toe-tapping rendition of ‘Tell Me Ma’ and you’re back in the room! This balance and sensitivity in their set-list programming allows great variety and versatility in their presentation, making an evening in their company an evening well spent.
Solid guitar and bass underpin the rhythm and harmony, with flowing fiddle and pennywhistle as interweaving melody instruments. Top it all off with heartfelt vocals, and you have the Banish Misfortune sound. The band can boast a wide repertoire of both traditional and modern Irish songs and tunes, with classics such as ‘Wild Rover’ and ‘Black Velvet Band’ alternating with ‘Fields Of Athenry’ or ‘Fairytale Of New York’ in a typical set-list. Skilful musicianship and thoughtful programming combine to create a performance that everyone can enjoy.
Banish Misfortune can include a seasoned dance-caller in their line-up to organise a riproaring session of ceilidh for everyone to join in with. No matter that you’ve never tried it before – today’s complete beginners will be tomorrow’s specialist experts, and anyway it all adds to the fun if people occasionally get their feet in a tangle! There really is no better all-inclusive entertainment at a wedding reception party than a ceilidh; it’s a brilliant social icebreaker, and the whole point is to involve everybody and have a lot of fun.
Whether you’re after a rumbustious Guinness-fuelled evening of Irish songs and tunes delivered with a touch of the Blarney, or an energetic whirl around the room ‘Stripping The Willow’ in authentic ceilidh style, then Banish Misfortune are the band for you. Selecting their extensive repertoire from the cream of the Irish and British traditions, these talented musicians present a charming, life-affirming and infectious programme of songs and tunes in order to do exactly what it says on the tin – Banish Misfortune.
You want everyone to get thoroughly involved and have lots of fun at your wedding reception party, so you’ve thought a session or two of good old-fashioned country dancing would be a great ice-breaker and would appeal across a wide age-range. So far, so good – but what exactly are you looking for? Is it called a ceilidh, a ceili, a barndance or a hoedown? Are they all different, and if so, which is which?
Don’t worry unduly, because apart from national characteristics and repertoire, the different terms are describing essentially the same basic type of entertainment – organised traditional dancing in pairs, groups and formations or ‘sets’.
Find out more about booking a live barn dance or ceilidh band for your wedding reception.
It basically does what it says on the tin, but a typically English barndance generally borrows much of its repertoire of traditional dances and tunes from its immediate British/Celtic neighbours, although it is possible to restrict at least the music to purely English sources.
You don’t actually have to stage the event in a barn either, although obviously that would seem to be the ideal location for a barndance!
Once again, the distinction is one of nationality; ceili is Irish and ceilidh is its Scottish counterpart, both deriving from the Gaelic word which translates approximately to ‘a visit’ or ‘a gathering’. At an Irish-style ceili, the dancing is often interspersed with songs, poetry and storytelling, whereas at a Scottish ceilidh the emphasis is more strongly on the traditional dances. Either way, there is invariably a considerable provision of refreshment to fuel the general merriment, so a good time is pretty much guaranteed for all.
In terms of other national characteristics, the respective repertoires of Scottish and Irish tunes and dances is quite distinct, although there is considerable overlap and much is shared between the two cultures. The instrumentation of a typical Irish ceili band often includes bodhran and flute or tin-whistle, and may additionally feature small bagpipes or banjo alongside the fiddles and guitars also commonly found in Scottish ceilidh bands, which otherwise tend to favour piano or accordion as main instruments, with drumkit underpinning the rhythm.
In the USA and Canada, traditional British/Celtic folk music and dance gradually merged with co-migrant French, German, Dutch and Scandinavian cultures to produce some interesting hybrids, from the zydeco tradition in Louisiana through to modern bluegrass and country music.
The basic outline of a hoedown or squaredance, however, conforms fundamentally to the same model as ceilidh, ceili or barndance – an organised social event featuring partner or group dancing to the accompaniment of traditional folktunes, most often played on fiddles, guitars, double-bass, mandolin and banjo.
For an amusing taste of the Wild West, a session of formation line-dancing can be included to good effect as part of a hoedown event, providing a contrasting break from the more traditional partner or group dances.
So there we are – ceili, ceilidh, barndance and hoedown are essentially all regional variations on a long-standing Celtic/British social tradition of music-making and dancing. The original concept of ‘a gathering’ is an absolutely ideal theme for wedding parties and other family celebrations, and the inclusive and interactive nature of the organised social dancing will ensure an evening of fantastic entertainment for young and old alike.